"I remain in hope" - the case of Mladen Urošević
The place of the disappeared in the contemporary wars and genocide is the field which historiography approaches with caution. The uncertainty, generalization and summary estimates are a dangerous ground rife with speculation. The numbers of the disappeared are often used for political purposes. Nevertheless, in all the conflicts and times of repression, the people who disappeared have had their lives, which had left traces behind, making it a duty of anyone studying history to also follow the traces of those for whom it cannot be proven exactly where and how they perished. The disappeared are victims too and must have a place in the public discussion on the crimes of the past. In certain cases, that is the voice of yesterday's free citizens using all legal means to address the authorities seeking information on their kin, regardless of the fact that these authorities are the occupiers and collaborationists. Such was the case of the Urošević family.
Trlić, near Ub, is a small hamlet, with less than 1000 inhabitants. In the fall and winter of 1941, faced with the spread of the uprising, and increasingly dire food shortages, families throughout occupied Serbia have been sending their older children away, to find work in Belgrade. One of those boys was Mladen Urošević. Mladen disappeared on October 29th, 1941, on the day of the large-scale police raids on the poor neighborhoods of Belgrade, where local gendarmes were rounding-up the Roma under the excuse of assembling the workforce for forced labour - the cutting of firewood on Belgrade's river islets. Instead, the Roma were interned in the camp Topovske šupe at Autokomanda, and after a few days were executed together with last of the Jewish hostages at Jabuka killing site near Pančevo.
From the report of Military Commander in Serbia for the Southeast: 13:15h October 29th: "Belgrade: 250 Gypsies arrested (Belgrad: 250 Zigeuner verhaftet)“.
Unlike the reprisals of the German military in Šabac, Mačva, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, and other places, the executions in the vicinity of Belgrade were conducted in secrecy, and victims were almost exclusively Jews and Roma. The occupier and quislings still preferred to avoid the possible consequences of the large-scale reprisals in the capital. Also, the number of "racially undesirable" hostages, Jews and Roma, was sufficient for the needs of the retribution. As the consequence of that period, it is Belgrade, with its immediate surroundings, that is after Jasenovac, the largest site of the Jewish and Roma suffering in former Yugoslavia.
The correspondence we are publishing here is kept without the signature in the Historical Archive of Belgrade.
The letter of the father to the Management of the city of Belgrade
To the Municipal Authority
My son Mladen Urošević from Trlićhas back in October 1941, at my request, moved to Belgrade, to remove himself to work with the Belgrade municipality since the communists have wanted to take him to the forest. ??? Mladen was by his departure to work in Belgrade, immediately employed at the municipality as a common laborer - cleaner.
From that(?) work, I don't know, municipality knows better where they were sent away, nor do I know where he is and whether he is alive.
Below, I enclose the certificate of Trlć municipality... No 40 sees that Mladen is Orthodox by religion and that he is a resident of the trlić municipality... and that his family is there.
I ask the authorities to act in accordance with the submitted certificate at the authorities in charge to find where my son Mladen is and that, as honest, be freed since he isn't guilty of anything nor he belonged to the communist party. (I enclose a photograph).
Based on these, I ask the authorities to notify me through the Trlić municipality where is my son Mladen and whether he is alive.
I remain in hope.
17. I. (1)942. year
Certificate on the behaviour of the son, issued by the Trlić municipality
No. 48 (illegible) 9
16. Jan. 1942. Year
At the appeal of Živorad Urošević
from Trlić Municipal Authority in Trlić
Is issuing him the following:
- that the appellant's son Radovan Urošević from Trlić had until 23-X-1941. His departure to Belgrade for work, been in attitude and behavior good.
- That is by religion eastern Orthodox.
- that the appellant Živodan owns in this municipality a house and an estate on which his son Radovan also lives.
- This certificate is issued at the appellant's request and is taxed.
Bg. I. ...
Mil. I. Spasojević
That the appellant's son, is as his father, by faith east. Orthodox and that they were always good and upright Christians and that they celebrate st. Nikolas, I confirm without the charge of a tax...
The reply of the Technical Department of Belgrade Municipality
VI Br 1391
In Belgrade to the Personnel department
With the return of the case, delivered is the prior report of the department of work hygiene with a request for jurisdiction
3 II 942
on Director's order
Rad I Damjanić (?)
II No. 2066
To Trlić municipality
Tamnava district Ub
This municipality is being asked to deign to notify Milisav Urošević, from the village of Trlić, that his son Mladen M. Urošević is not at work with this municipality since day 29-10-1941 year, and according to the report of the Department for the municipal cleanliness from 30-1-1942 year.
Where the named is, to this Municipality is unknown.
By the order of the president
of Municipality of the city of Belgrade
of the Personnel department
District of Tamnava
I was notified of the forward today 10. February 1942. Year in Trlić
Milisav Urošević from Trlić
to the Municipality authority - Belgrade
After the completed communication the act is politely returned.
? Duš. Ilić
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